Things I'm Afraid to Tell You


Why do we read blogs? Information and entertainment, for one but also for many of the same reasons we tend to be baited by sensational news, reality television and celebrity fodder. We seek escapes from our daily lives, no matter how temporary. Blogs offer us a glimpse into the imaginative and seemingly more exciting worlds of others. But these rosy worlds - full of aspirational images, enviable travels and fortunate families - often cloak a far different reality for even the most successful bloggers behind them - crippling insecurity, peculiar habits, unreasonable fears and various other personal details rarely shared with readers.

Last week, motivated by this blogger's example, three incredibly successful, inspiring women (Ez of Creature Comforts, Nichole of Little Brown Pen and Erin of Design for Mankind) released a call for blogger transparency with the "Things I'm Afraid to Tell You" campaign. The blogging community swells with support and these women hope that the first string of participants will embolden other to jump in. While I share snapshots of my life and even talk about some of the more difficult times, there are so many things I haven't said. Reading the confessions of some of my favorite bloggers - like Susan and Jenna - motivated me to muster the courage to articulate my own fears and quirks.

// I don't really like picnics. Sitting on the ground invariably hurts my back and I can't stand the feeling of being crawled on by microscopic bugs. Give me a bench and a sandwich and I'm all smiles.

2 // I'm terrified that everything I have worked so hard to achieve will disappear - that it will happen virtually overnight and, as a result, I'll lose the sense of self I struggled to define. When I started this site, I never intended to update it very regularly let alone grow it into what it is today. Over time, it brought me writing opportunities and, most importantly, helped me find my voice. The beauty of writing about Paris is that it is a city that will never stop intriguing people but this also becomes its curse - with so many fantastic sites offering tips, photos, stories and recommendations, what's to prevent readers (collectively, all at once as I irrationally fear) from dropping my perspective for another? OR what happens if C. and I are given a once-in-a-lifetime chance in another part of the world and we have to move? What will happen to this site? Would I feel inspired to keep pursuing my writing on other platforms about other locations or is my creative juice (and perhaps ability to keep poeple reading) limited to this place?

3 // On the other hand, there are moments when I wish all of this - blogs, social media and its associated dependency, hyper-connectedness - would disappear. I realize that so many of my friendships, jobs, and otherwise improbable opportunities have emerged from these things but for all the web's positives, it has also heightened my existing propensity toward anxiety.

4 // I sometimes worry that not eating/liking pork, lamb, duck or shellfish precludes me from writing about food with any credibility.

5 // Despite having my work published in various publications and hearing from you, dear reader, that you enjoy my writing, I think most of what I produce isn't good enough. At times, this feeling of inadequacy leads to unhealthy comparisons to others and cloying self-doubt which, as we can all agree, are toxic to creativity and, ultimately, our happiness.

6 // I've previously shared my feelings about not wanting to have children and my conviction remains unchanged. A more recent concern is not having anyone to take care of me when I'm old and potentially alone. Surely I'm not the only one?

7 // Whenever C. forgets to put on sunscreen and ends up with a burn, I throw a little fit. Like many French, he didn't grow up with constant reminders or warnings of the dangers of prolonged sun exposure like I (and most Americans) did and he has the indelible sunspots to prove it. I fear he'll end up with skin cancer simply because he "couldn't be bothered" to protect himself.

8 // For every achievement, I feel simultaneously triumphant and overwhelmed. I inflict tremendous pressure on myself to keep going, to reach higher, for what results in such short-lived joy. Are all creative pursuits inherently complicated? A mixed bag of Catch-22s?

9 // I struggle with happiness - defining what it means for me, sustaining it and identifying what I need to do to get it back when it slips.

10 // This site had done fantastic things to my personal life but it hasn't been easy on my marriage. I need to get better at disconnecting from online chatter (and blather, let's be honest), at allowing myself the occasional respite from the stories turning in my head, and at devoting my attention to our offline needs. I've seen many couples handle this sort of thing beautifully and I'm totally envious. My work has only just begun.

I could have kept going but for your sake (and my own sanity) I thought ten was a good end point. Hoping those of you with blogs will join the campaign and those without will consider and confront your own fears.

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